Friday, August 01, 2008

it's only a game...

You may recall the 2002 FIFA World Cup a few years back. I remember it. A bunch of us at bible college were crowded around the television as England fought it out against Brazil for a place in the the semi-finals. Not that I really cared who won - I was more interested in enjoying a study break in the big-screen atmosphere. In fact after England lost the match I recall rather heartlessly dismissing the feelings of the resident Englishman by asserting it was only a game. I'm still not sure if he has forgiven me.

Fast forward six years and here I am married to a die hard Collingwood supporter. Collingwood supporters are their own breed, unswerving in their devotion despite their team's discouragingly fluctuating form, much maligned by the supporters of every other team in the AFL competition. Doggedly they cheer for their team when incredible victories are out numbered by the almost predictable spectacular flops. Collingwood just don't seem to be able to do what it takes to win when it really matters and their fans keep cheering but feel it like a crushing blow.

Frank is no different in this. His delight following a win is barely containable, while I am yet to plumb the depths of his despair following a loss. Occasionally I doubt his commitment to the team when he mutters about their uselessness when things turn bad - aren't supporters supposed to cheer a team along when the going gets tough? When the gloom and doom threaten to overwhelm both Frank and myself I gently? sensitively?... callously remind him it's only a game.

So last week Collingwood were playing Essendon in a match one might have expected them to win, but things did not go well for the 'Pies. Things went from bad to worse, the life ebbing
out of Collingwood's game with each succeeding minute. It was not pleasant to watch and Frank did little to hold back his feelings of woe. I kept myself busy doing housework, cooking tea for our impending entertaining and monitoring Frank's reactions. As he berated Collingwood's poor form with increasing fervour, I pleaded with him to just turn the television off. 'Spare me and spare yourself the misery; pull the plug; Collingwood are going to lose and I cannot tolerate your
fit of depression; for goodness sake, turn it off!' until finally in the last quarter, Frank gave up all hope and let the screen go blank.

As all good counselling students are wont to do, I began to reflect on my own response to the afternoon's television viewing. It was then I picked up on my tension, the stomping around the house, blocking out the game with headphones, increasing agitation... my need for Frank to turn off the television had nothing to do with his reactions and everything to do with mine. I was upset. I wanted Collingwood to turn around and win back points. I was desperate for them to show us their stuff. I felt angry with their poor performance... in truth I could not stand to watch them lose. Blow for blow, their loss was mine and I could not bear it. This was no longer just a game, it was Collingwood doing poorly, Collingwood going under, Collingwood staring down the barrel of losing their place in the top eight.

What the heck?! When did that happen? When did I convert from cold indifference to loyal supporter? When did I lose my objectivity and stop seeing this as only a game? How on earth did this happen?

One week later I am still scratching my head. And it does not help that Collingwood have been beaten, again. Definitely out of the eight this week.

I'm off to mope. And please - don't tell me it's only a game!

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At 10:07 am, August 02, 2008, Blogger Cherie said...

I won't tell you it's only a game. It's not. It's raw emotion and the need to be victorious if only vicariously. It's loyalty, and patriotism, and FUN and despair, and a test of maturity and and and...well, yeah, it's only a game.

Better luck next game, hey.

You can cheer me up when my team takes a beating next fall.

At 8:43 pm, August 03, 2008, Blogger Sandy's Notes said...

Funny - the discovery of being a fan. This post just made me LOL Cecily. I can imagine you yelling at Frank, "turn it off!"

Of course I won't tell you either, but better luck next time.

At 3:43 pm, August 07, 2008, Blogger Robyn said...

I'm guessing you guys aren't having a good week then :(


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